Catholic LGBT families introduce themselves ahead of Pope's visit

On the opening day of the World Meeting of Families, Catholic LGBT people and their families introduced themselves to the media and the wider world. GLAAD is working with Equally Blessed, who organized the pilgrimage of the LGBT families. At a press conference at Arch Street United Methodist Church, some of the pilgrims told bits of their story of accepting themselves or a loved one.

Marianne Duddy-Burke, the Executive Director of DignityUSA, shared about the challenges she and her wife, Becky, went to adopt their children.

When we decided that adopting through the foster care system was the right path for us, Becky and I contacted Catholic Charities. The social worker who started our intake told us that the agency would train and certify us, that hat the supervisors did not allow workers to place children with same-sex couples because it was against church teaching. Fortunately, our state foster care system welcomes LGBT people as foster and adoptive parents, and over time we were matched with two extraordinary girls, our daughters Emily and Fini.

Rosa Manriquez of Los Angeles spoke about accepting and loving her daughter, and drew a parallel for how the church can love its LGBT members.

My brothers and sisters, especially in the Roman Catholic hierarchy, talk to the LGBT community, not about the LGBT community. Jesus sat and ate with the most marginalized of his time. And he listened tgo them. He let their words touch him. My brothers and sisters, let us engage in a holy, humble dialogue where ho one's voice is greater or lesser than the others. It is my hope that the Roman Catholic Church, both the institution and community, this very human church that is so dear to me, will accept the gift of looking at our LGBT sisters and brothers with the loving gaze of God. It is then, that we will understand the gift of unconditional love.

Although she is not on the pilgrimage with Equally Blessed, Margie Winters had comments of her own. Margie is the Philadelphia Catholic school teacher who was fired after an anonymous source filed a complaint that she was married to another woman.

I had the privilege of weaving the Spirit and mission of Mercy throughout our school through faith formation, community building, and outreach to those who are poor, homeless, hungry and lovely. My firing, and too many others like it, has touched at the core of who we are as Church. Some bishops question the Catholic identity of institutions who have LGBT members serving them. We ask the Church to reflect on its own identity: an identity now associated with the discriminatory treatment of the LGBT community. We are your sisters and brothers in faith. We ask that the Church reflect on its treatment of the LGBT community through the lens of the social justice principles of human dignity, respect for the gifts that we offer the Church, the dignity and rights of workers, and of justice.

GLAAD was on hand to provide media outlets with printed copies of "The Papal Visit: A journalist's guide to reporting on Pope Francis and the LGBT community," a resource guide for journalists covering Pope Francis and LGBT Catholics. Written in both Spanish and English, the guidebook contains a timeline outlining some of the Pope's most prominent actions and statements about the LGBT community as well as best, practices, pitfalls, and terms to avoid when discussing LGBT Catholics. Further, the guide highlights LGBT-supportive Catholics, LGBT Catholic organizations, story ideas focusing on both LGBT acceptance and opposition among Catholics, and more.

The pilgrims will be appearing in many media outlets throughout the week. And many will be appearing in GLAAD's #TellThePope Tumblr. What do you want the Pope to know about LGBT people? Submit a photo, video, or story to the Tell the Pope Tumblr about your experience as an LGBT person or ally.

There is still time to add your name, and urge Pope Francis to meet with LGBT Catholics and their families during his trip to the United States. Sign the petition now